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(Do It) Right This Time

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It starts off as something relatively simple.

 

“Hey,” Doyoung says one evening, staring into the fridge and debating what to whip up for dinner. “How was work?”

 

His roommate, childhood best friend, secret love of his life, plops his messenger bag down on one of the island stools. “Fine,” he says. “New guy at work today.”

 

“Oh?” Doyoung asks, leaning down to grab the peppers from the crisper. He has to use them up before they go bad. “What’s he like?”

 

“Funny,” Taeyong says. Doyoung can hear the smile in his voice without even looking up. “Cute.”

 

That makes Doyoung stand up straight, turning his head to look at where Taeyong stands at the kitchen island, bent at the waist so he can rest his elbow on the countertop and his cheek against his fist. He looks… smitten. There’s a soft, barely-there smile that Doyoung can only see because he has Taeyong’s face so intricately memorized, can read his expressions like a language he’s spoken since birth. 

 

Doyoung knows, really, the clear, uncomplicated reason for Taeyong’s smile. Taeyong doesn’t have a lot of friends at work, some stuffy marketing firm filled with equally stuffy middle-aged men and women who Taeyong just hasn’t been able to really connect with. Doyoung is lucky, working for a small, up-and-coming online magazine surrounded by other young, queer kids his age. Doyoung works with their entire friend group, basically.

 

The problem is, Doyoung’s harboured, festering crush on Taeyong has him looking past the simple answer and digging for something deeper. It’s like he likes being in pain. “What’s his name?”

 

“Baekhyun.”

 

Doyoung just nods, lets out a hum in acknowledgement. “Are we all out of sesame oil?”

 

“He’s only a few years older than me,” Taeyong continues on, practically oblivious to Doyoung’s presence in the room. “He’s funny.”

 

“You said that.”

 

There’s a long moment of stiff silence. Taeyong just blinks at Doyoung and Doyoung thinks about how bitter he sounds, how unreasonably hurt he feels. He wishes he could fix this attitude problem of his, his general grouchiness and the way he never hesitates to just shut down anything anyone says that Doyoung doesn’t want to stomach.

 

It’s just- he’s a little bit in love, is all.

 

Taeyong chews his cheek for a second before nodding his head toward the pantry. “I picked up a new bottle a couple days ago.”

 

“Right,” Doyoung says after a brief second of confusion, “sesame oil.”

 

The smile Taeyong gives Doyoung is genuine and sweet. “Sesame oil.”





It starts off as something relatively simple, then morphs into something a little more complicated.

 

“Hey,” Doyoung says into his phone. He’s seated at his desk, squinting against the afternoon sunlight that always bursts through the office’s windows this time of day. “What’s up?”

 

“Don’t sound so worried,” Taeyong says, as if it isn’t extremely strange and nerve-wracking to Doyoung’s dependency on routine and normalcy to receive a call from his roommate in the middle of the day. “I just wanted to give you a heads up that Baekhyun is coming over tonight.”

 

Right. Baekhyun. This name he’s been hearing a lot of over the past couple weeks. 

 

“Oh,” Doyoung says, falling short of anything else to say. “I- should I pick up enough groceries to make dinner for three, then?”

 

“Nah, thank you, we’re going to grab a bite before he comes and hangs out for the evening,” Taeyong says, and Doyoung would have to be impossibly oblivious to not hear the way barely-contained excitement saturates his words, “so you don’t have to worry about it.”

 

But Doyoung worries about it. He worries about it as he sits at his desk and stares at the blinking cursors on his screen. He worries about it when he pretends to be busy when he knows his supervisors - who are also his friends and would likely pry - are watching. He worries about it when he packs up his things, gets to the grocery store, makes dinner, eats by himself at his quiet kitchen table. 

 

Fridays, typically, consist of Doyoung and Taeyong making something for dinner that they gorge themselves on. Sometimes, they’ll go out, if some of their other friends decide they’d like to do something for the night. Often, they’ll curl up on the couch and watch a movie or two or just sit and talk and share the same space. Doyoung and Taeyong have been doing that forever - sharing the same space.

 

This Friday night, however, consists of Doyoung eating in silence and watching the second hand on the clock in the kitchen tick and tock away. He watches it tick and tock away as he washes his dishes. He watches it tick and tock away as he sits on the couch and just. Waits. To not be alone.

 

Doyoung has never had a problem with being alone. He thinks, with good reason, his problem tonight isn’t about being alone - it’s the fact that Taeyong isn’t.

 

He isn’t alone for much longer. Not long enough for him to think about it too much, spiral into something he can’t come out of and put on a face for company. It isn’t too long until there’s a key in the lock, and then the sound of Taeyong’s giddy voice filtering in down the hallway from the entrance. He’s telling a story, one that makes him giggle around every word. Doyoung likes those stories Taeyong tells.

 

“But, anyway, it was just-” he snorts “-it was just the dumbest thing I’d heard all day. Anyway, welcome to my home!”

 

“It’s nice,” comes another voice. Lower and nasally and accompanied by two sets of footsteps. Two figures appear at the edge of the living room.

 

“It does its job,” Taeyong says humbly. It takes him a second to spot Doyoung on the couch. “Oh, Doie! Baekhyun, this is my roommate, Doyoung.”

 

Doyoung is met with a wide, painfully bright smile and a chance to size him up. He’s barely shorter than Taeyong, broad chest, young face, gigantic, pointy smile. “Nice to meet you, Doyoung,” pleasant voice. Doyoung wants to hate him. “I’ve heard so much about you.”

 

It takes Doyoung a beat. “Hopefully nothing too horrible.”

 

“Oh, no,” Baekhyun says, that grin of his unfaltering but never losing its genuity. “With the way Taeyong talks about you, I half expected to walk in here and find an angel, wings and all.”

 

Suddenly, the dirt under Doyoung’s thumbnail is remarkably interesting. He smiles, tight-lipped, and hopes he isn’t turning all red in the ears. He wants to hate Baekhyun. He wants to hate Baekhyun, because of that stupid, smitten look on Taeyong’s peachy pink face and that sparkle in his eye. But he can’t hate Baekhyun. He can’t hate Baekhyun because of that stupid, smitten look on Taeyong’s peachy pink face and that sparkle - that damn sparkle - in his eye.

 

“Nah,” he says. “I only break out the wings for special occasions.”

 

-----

 

Sometimes, Doyoung thinks about the time that he and Taeyong kissed.

 

It wasn’t anything that meant anything. Doyoung and Taeyong have known each other so long they genuinely have lost track, have seen each other through just about every phase of their life. And the kiss they had shared came at a time when neither of them really knew who or what they were, yet, as people. It was at a time when they knew nothing about love, or sex, or relationships. 

 

It came at a time when they were very young, very vulnerable, and sharing secrets they were terrified to voice. 

 

Doyoung said it first, always one to cave in to Taeyong’s sad, wide eyes. Taeyong was afraid to say it first, and so Doyoung did. And then it was out there, in the space between them on Doyoung’s family’s pull-out couch they liked to sleep on during sleepovers so they could watch movies until the sun came up. And Taeyong had said something like, Yeah, me, too, I think. And then neither of them knew what to do with it. 

 

They decided, for the sake of science and experimentation, that maybe they would try kissing. To see if they knew for sure. 

 

It came at a time when they were young and awkward and inexperienced. The kiss was brief and sloppy, bumping noses and unsure hands. It was unceremonious, and when they pulled away, all they did was decide which movie to watch next. It was nothing special. It was kind of bad. 

 

Sometimes - sometimes Doyoung, now, looks at Taeyong during quiet moments. Moments that are just between the two of them, as housemates and best friends and life partners. Sometimes he looks at Taeyong with his kind eyes and his earnest smile and he thinks-

 

He thinks, maybe, he hadn’t done it right the first time. That kiss they shared like they share homework wasn’t right, it wasn’t the type of kiss that someone like Taeyong deserves. Taeyong deserves something tender and gentle and overflowing with love and affection. He deserves a kiss from someone who means it from someone who loves him and is trying to say it with his touch. 

 

He thinks, sometimes, that he’d like to try again. Do it right this time. And then maybe another time after that, and again, and again, until Taeyong receives the kiss that someone like Taeyong deserves. 

 

-----

 

“I don’t know if I feel like doing anything for my birthday, this year,” Taeyong is saying, idly fiddling away on his phone as he lays upside down on the couch. His legs are up on the backrest, his feet against the wall. Doyoung asked Taeyong once, about thirteen years ago, why he sits like that sometimes. He didn’t have an answer then and he probably doesn’t have one now. 

 

“Oh?” Doyoung replies from where he sits at the kitchen island, eyes on his laptop. “Why’s that?”

 

It takes a second for Taeyong to reply. Doyoung just continues the work he has in front of him, proofreading the first draft of his column. A regular, quiet Wednesday night, just like every week. They sit at home and they work and they share space.

 

“I dunno,” Taeyong eventually says, distracted. “We always have a party, I’m not in the mood for something big this year.”

 

Doyoung gets it. So many of their friends’ birthdays are so close to the same time of year, so they manage to squeeze every birthday celebration into one. Taeyong is pretty much a stand-alone in his early-summer birthday, his parties always revolving around Taeyong and Taeyong alone, forcing him into the spotlight and as the center of attention. Taeyong fits in almost everywhere. He fits in under the spotlight, as the center of attention, where everyone can watch him. He, however, does not feel that way, cowering from any situation that makes people look at him.

 

Such a shame, really, that he happens to be so easy to look at.

 

“What if we do something, just me and you?” Doyoung asks, grabbing his mug of tea to take a sip. The steam kisses his cheeks.

 

“That sounds nice,” Taeyong says. Doyoung opens a new tab on his laptop, starts searching for restaurants he and Taeyong haven’t tried yet. “Baekhyun mentioned something about taking me to dinner, actually. Maybe you can come with, just the three of us.”

 

Doyoung exits the tab.

 

“Nah,” he says, and tries his best to not sound too sad about it. “You go have fun with Baekhyun. I don’t want to intrude.”

 

The stretch of silence that meets Doyoung’s words has his heart picking up speed. His fingers hover over his keyboard, unable to form any words, and he peeks over the monitor of his laptop to see Taeyong staring at him from the wrong end of the couch, his face upside down and pinched together with something Doyoung has a difficult time deciphering.

 

They just look at each other, for a moment. Doyoung waits for Taeyong to say something - something like You won’t be intruding, or, But, I want you to be there. But Doyoung knows that’s not what Taeyong wants to say. Doyoung can read it in the tilt of Taeyong’s brows and the blackness of his big, wide eyes. He knows Taeyong is grateful, no matter how guilty that may make him feel.

 

And then Taeyong says, “I really like him, Doie.”

 

And Doyoung says, “I know,” before he takes a sip of tea that burns his tongue.

 

-----

 

It’s the weekend after Taeyong’s birthday that things start to get a little more difficult to stomach.

 

Doyoung will always be swallowing down his feelings for Taeyong, whether Taeyong is seeing anyone or not. It’s what he’s been doing his whole life. He’s rather practiced in the art of pretending that nothing is wrong, that pretending there’s nothing bothering him, pretending there’s nothing to be bothered about. And he’s been doing exactly that - pretending that there’s no Baekhyun, and that he isn’t hopelessly in love with Taeyong. 

 

It’s a Sunday morning and Doyoung is heading home from a night spent at Johnny’s place where he and a few other guys had spent the night brainstorming for next month’s issue before inevitably crashing at various points in the house. He feels gross and crusty and in desperate need of a shower, and he can’t wait to be home where he can kick his feet up and talk to Taeyong about all the work piling up. Somehow, complaining about it to Taeyong always makes the weight feel less burdensome.

 

He steps off the elevator and rounds the corner into the hallway that leads to his apartment. Then he halts in his tracks.

 

A few doors down, Apartment #70B’s door is wide open, spilling light into the hallway that’s broken by the shadows of two bodies standing in the doorway. They’re both smiling and laughing, a perfect picture of happiness.

 

Taeyong’s got an arm wrapped around the back of Baekhyun’s neck, the other resting on Baekhyun’s chest, as the two of them press their smiles together over and over, laughing into each other’s mouths and not quite able to separate long enough to properly say the good-bye’s they’re so clearly trying to say.

 

“I’ve gotta-” Baekhyun cuts off at the smack of a kiss and a giggle that pours out of him. “I’ve really gotta go before I stay here all day.”

 

“No one’s stopping you from staying,” Taeyong replies, clinging tighter. Doyoung’s hands curl into fists. “My bed’s here all day and so am I.”

 

Baekhyun groans, tilting his head back. Doyoung can’t even be mad at the way Baekhyun’s arms snake tighter around Taeyong’s waist, pulling his slender frame in tighter against him. Doyoung can’t be mad because he can’t blame him - he, too, would pull Taeyong that close and never let go, if he ever had the opportunity.

 

“I wish I could, baby,” that word makes Doyoung’s stomach coil, “but I have to visit my aunt before my mom has my head.”

 

Taeyong pouts, and Doyoung’s kinda glad that Baekhyun’s there to kiss it off of him. “Fine,” Taeyong says, diving back in for more kisses. “But I’ll miss you.”

 

Before the couple could even think about parting for air, Doyoung spins on his heel, walking back through the hallways to avoid running into Baekhyun on his way to the elevator. He tucks himself behind another corner until he hears Baekhyun’s absentminded humming, the ding of the elevator, and then silence in the corridor. He counts to eighty before he pushes his messenger bag further up his shoulder and steps out from behind the wall.

 

He slots his key into the door of Apartment #70B and pushes his way inside. He’s greeted by the sight of Taeyong not too far past the threshold, looking dazed and smitten, all pink in the cheeks and love-bitten. Doyoung’s surprised he hadn’t noticed, in the hall, that Taeyong wasn’t wearing any pants.

 

When Taeyong looks over at Doyoung, it takes him a moment to blink all the sparkles out of his eyes and focus on what’s in front of him. His lips - kiss-swollen and red - spread into a dreamy smile.

 

“Morning, Doie!” He chimes. The sweater he’s wearing isn’t something Doyoung recognizes. Doyoung forces his eyes up from Taeyong’s thighs. “How was your night?”

 

Doyoung watches Taeyong’s back as he retreats into the living area. He doesn’t seem like he’s planning to put some pants on anytime soon.

 

He drops his messenger bag from his shoulder and rubs a hand over his face. Doyoung thinks about the weight on his shoulders, everything that’s clouding his mind, the stress that work and expanding the magazine is bringing. How much he would love to spill some of it out into Taeyong’s waiting hands, just to feel a little lighter.

 

Then he thinks about Baekhyun’s sweater on Taeyong’s back and Baekhyun’s smile on Taeyong’s mouth and he decides it best just to huff the air out of his chest and say, “Long and exhausting. I need a shower.”

 

“Okay,” Taeyong says, oblivious to Doyoung’s turmoil. He plops down on the couch with a sigh. “Shower’s all yours.”

 

Doyoung knows he should ask Taeyong how his night was. But he already knows the answer. And he doesn’t want to hear it.

 

He takes his time in the shower. It burns way too hot and way too long, and he just stands there under the spray and amongst the steam and closes his eyes and tries not to imagine the look on Taeyong’s face when he leaned in for a kiss. And another kiss and another. He tries not to imagine Baekhyun’s hand sprawled on the small of Taeyong’s back, at that glint in his eye that Doyoung recognizes as something akin to pride and wonder - the face of a man who knows he’s lucky to have someone like Taeyong hanging off his shoulders, and is just so amused by that look in Taeyong’s wide eyes. Doyoung knows the feeling very well.

 

Doyoung thinks about it. He tries so hard not to think about it, that he thinks about it. What he does not think about, however, is the way the image of the two of them kissing, entangled in the hallway, makes his stomach twist in crippling, albeit pleasant, knots.

 

That’s a whole load of something he’ll do his best to never unpack.

 

When he thinks his skin is red and pruny enough and before he’s at that point where his landlord will text him to bitch about their water bill, he shuts the shower off and reaches for his towel. He takes his time, changing into clean clothes and scrubbing at his hair with a towel, before he takes a breath and opens the bathroom door to whatever faces him outside.

 

Taeyong is still on the couch, but he’s curled up under a blanket and scrolling through Netflix. When he spots Doyoung wandering into the living room, his eyes light up as his mouth splits into a grin.

 

“Doie!” he cheers, sticking his arms out from under the blanket to reach for his friend. “Come here, I’ve missed you.”

 

Doyoung can’t help but laugh as he plops down on the couch next to Taeyong, accepting the hug the other boy wraps him up in. “I was gone one night, you goof.” He snatches the remote out of Taeyong’s lap. “Besides, you were with your boyfriend, anyway.”

 

Taeyong’s eyes widen comically. “How- how do you know he was here?”

 

Doyoung tries not to obsess over the fact that Taeyong didn’t correct his use of the term boyfriend. “I- that’s- I know that’s not your sweater.”

 

He wonders if he should start leaving his own sweaters inconspicuously around Taeyong’s room and in Taeyong’s reach. He wonders if he could figure out a way to get Taeyong walking around in his sweaters more, wearing a bit of him around the house.

 

“Oh,” Taeyong looks down at his chest. His bashful smile is accompanied by a rosy red flush in his cheeks that makes Doyoung want to cry or die or both. Then, Taeyong whispers, “I really like him.”

 

“I know.” He knows and he hates it.

 

“And I think you would, too.”

 

-----

 

Taeyong, all things considered, was right. Doyoung really, really likes Baekhyun. It turns out, with his charming smiles and boisterous laugh and witty sense of humour, he’s kind of impossible to hate.

 

The three of them are currently sat around the coffee table in Doyoung and Taeyong’s living room, sharing a bottle of Soju and their storage of jokes. Taeyong had convinced Doyoung to stick around to hang out with Baekhyun, needing little more than a pout on his bottom lip and his big round eyes to have Doyoung bending over backward for him. He had been apprehensive, at first, to spend an evening with the boy he loves and the boy he loves’ boyfriend. But he has to admit. He’s having fun.

 

Baekhyun is funny. So funny. The kind of funny that lights up a room and keeps all eyes on him. He’s enthralling and charismatic and Doyoung finds he can’t even be bothered by the way Taeyong hangs off his arm and stares at him like he’s hung every star in the sky. 

 

It’s impossible to hate Baekhyun because, holy shit, does he put the most stunning smile on Taeyong’s face. Doyoung loves Taeyong, and he loves when Taeyong looks this happy.

 

“I’m gonna go grab some water,” Taeyong says, wiping tears out of his eyelashes, recovering from the hilarious story Baekhyun was just telling about daring his college roommate to streak around campus. “You guys want?”

 

“Yes, please,” Doyoung says. 

 

“Thanks, babe,” Baekhyun says, his chin tilting up to meet Taeyong’s kiss as the younger stands up.

 

Maybe Doyoung’s eyes linger on where their lips meet for a moment too long. And maybe his eyes linger on Taeyong’s retreating form for a few moments too long - long enough that when he peels his gaze away from Taeyong, he’s met with the narrowed, knowing eyes of one Byun Baekhyun.

 

Suddenly, Doyoung feels like he’s sitting at a steel cold interrogation table, and Baekhyun’s tilted the lamp right into his eyes.

 

“So you and Yongie are pretty close, huh?”

 

Doyoung swallows, looking down at his near-empty glass. “Best friends our whole lives.”

 

Baekhyun hums, still studying Doyoung with eyes that seem to burn right through him. “He adores you, you know.”

 

He can only nod, a lump in Doyoung’s throat suddenly making it impossible to speak. He looks up, briefly, to meet Baekhyun’s eyes. What he sees is something warm, soft, and dripping in understanding.

 

“I’m serious,” Baekhyun says, with a bit more fervour. The mischief never leaves the tilt of his lips, however. “I almost felt threatened by it, for a bit, but then I realized he adores me, too.”

 

“Oh? What’s this we’re talking about?”

 

Doyoung can’t see Taeyong walking up behind him, but he can see the way Baekhyun looks up and smiles at him.

 

“You,” he says, effortlessly. Doyoung envies such transparency. “How much you adore Doyoungie here.”

 

When Taeyong sits back down in that corner of the triangle opposite Baekhyun and Doyoung, his smile is soft. Doyoung feels this vicious need to wrap his arms around Taeyong and chase Baekhyun away. Yet another part of him wants to keep Baekhyun around, just to watch the way it makes Taeyong’s face light up. And maybe Doyoung wouldn’t mind the stories and the jokes and the room full of laughter.

 

His smile is really nice, too. But Doyoung will never admit that.

 

“Of course I adore him,” Taeyong says, and then he reaches across the table to hold Doyoung’s face in his warm hands. His smile is giddy, his cheeks flushed, always the first to feel the worst of the alcohol. “My Doie.”

 

Doyoung’s heart hasn’t kicked in a good eight seconds, probably.

 

“Yeah,” Baekhyun says with a smug smile. “He’s pretty easy to adore, huh?”

 

-----

 

Befriending Baekhyun has become a… strange development.

 

Doyoung considers Baekhyun a friend, he thinks, though their conversations feel mostly competitive, posturing for one another and trying to one-up each other regarding their relationships with Taeyong. Doyoung doesn’t do it on purpose, he just feels a need to be protective over the place he has next to Taeyong in life. He supposes Baekhyun feels the same way.

 

It’s nothing personal. He likes Baekhyun. He just also really wants Baekhyun to understand that he refuses to back off.

 

Doyoung replied to Baekhyun’s story:  

Cute pic

I bought Taeyong that necklace

 

Baekhyun:

that’s why i told him to wear it today

 

Sometimes, Doyoung thinks Baekhyun doesn’t want him to back off.

 

Baekhyun:

come w taeyong to my place tonight

i hear you have the best movie commentary

 

Doyoung:

I’ll consider it

 

He’s already typing up an email to Jaehyun and Johnny’s desks saying isn’t coming out for drinks tonight.

 

-----

 

Baekhyun’s place is pretty nice, for being a humble apartment built for one person. It isn’t as compulsively tidy as the apartment Doyoung shares with Taeyong - but it is and apartment occupied by Doyoung and Taeyong. No apartment’s tidiness will ever compare.

 

Baekhyun’s place is pretty nice, and it’s pretty cozy, the three of them squeezed onto Baekhyun’s couch and halfway through a superhero movie that Doyoung has definitely seen and isn’t really paying much attention to. Instead, he’s focussed on Taeyong in the corner of his vision, squished between Doyoung and Baekhyun, his head on Baekhyun’s shoulder as he snoozes away. He looks so cute and soft and peaceful, just on the brink of starting to drool onto Baekhyun’s shirt, and both Doyoung and Baekhyun are just laughing with each other about it.

 

“Doesn’t he make you want to wrap him up with a blanket and hide him from the cruel, cruel world?” Baekhyun asks, voice low.

 

Doyoung smiles. “That’s one way to put it.”

 

“It’s the only way to put it.”

 

“Yeah,” Doyoung relents, lifting his eyes from Taeyong’s slack jaw to see Baekhyun looking down at Taeyong on his shoulder, face infinitely soft and stuffed with affection. “I’m glad you feel that way. Yongie deserves it.”

 

Then, Baekhyun meets Doyoung’s eyes. “Yeah.” His face is tense with that same seriousness, knowingness, that he wore that night on Doyoung’s living room floor. “He does.”

 

Silence dregs on, and Doyoung turns to watch the fight scene happening in the movie. He could not care less about what’s happening on screen, but he feels a little too transparent under Baekhyun’s studious gaze, a transparency that Doyoung often tends to avoid. 

 

“You know, Doyoung,” Baekhyun murmurs, words heavy and grave with sincerity, “I, of all people, can understand what it’s like to have feelings for Taeyong.”

 

Doyoung wants to look at Baekhyun. He is, however, frozen in place, staring at the screen that he can’t even see anymore through his scared white vision. “Wh- what do you mean?”

 

“I’m not stupid. And neither is Taeyong,” Baekhyun says. “I see it. Taeyong denies it.”

 

Ripped wide open and bared for the universe to see, Doyoung finally turns to meet Baekhyun’s eyes. “Have- you… talked to him? About it- about me?”

 

Baekhyun sniffs, shifts in his seat a little bit. Taeyong burrows further into Baekhyun’s shoulder. “I’m older, you know,” he says, “got more experience with people, and all that. No, we haven’t talked about it. But I can see it.”

 

“I… don’t know what you mean.”

 

“You should hear the way Taeyong talks about you,” Baekhyun continues. Doyoung just gapes at him. “He told me once that he’s going to spend the rest of his life with you. I know it when I see it, Doie, you guys are soulmates. Undeniably.”

 

Doyoung’s mouth flaps about. “But-”

 

“I’d step aside. I would, if it would make Taeyong happy.” When Baekhyun glances down at Taeyong, his eyes and smile are so painfully soft that Doyoung feels a flutter in his belly. “But I’m also stubborn, and I’ve got it pretty bad for him. But I’m also not going to get in the way of the two of you.”

 

At this point, Doyoung’s heartbeat could rival a stampede. His heart is breaking for reasons he doesn’t comprehend, even though all he’s hearing right now is- he figures it’s good news. That he hasn’t competition. That he maybe has a chance.

 

“Well. Do you think Taeyong would be fine with that? Being with both of us?”

 

Baekhyun only shrugs in response. He takes a breath to say something, but then he’s interrupted.

 

“You guys are so bad at whispering,” Taeyong mumbles into the fabric of Baekhyun’s sleeve. “And I’m the lightest sleeper in the world.”

 

Doyoung thinks he’s going to die.

 

“Taeyong, I’m so-”

 

“Don’t apologize.” Taeyong sits up, his hair sticking up on the side that was pressed into Baekhyun, his face all scrunched up with grogginess. “Don’t.”

 

Doyoung wrings his hands together in his lap. He exchanges a panicked look with Baekhyun over Taeyong’s head. “Okay.”

 

They wait with bated breath. Doyoung and Baekhyun just exchange glances with each other, trying to silently converse and failing miserably, as they wait for Taeyong to wake up enough to say something, anything. All there is to listen to is the sounds of explosions coming from the TV, some witty dialogue that goes right over their heads, the violent racing of Doyoung’s heart battering against his ribs.

 

This is it- his lifelong secret, so carelessly spilled right into Taeyong’s ears.

 

“Doyoung,” Taeyong finally says, his voice so soft and full of… is that hope? 

 

Doyoung looks to Taeyong with wide, deer-in-the-headlights eyes. “Yes?”

 

“Is he right?”

 

He glances at Baekhyun over Taeyong’s shoulder, as if he could be any help right now. All he gets is a pleased smirk. “Yeah,” Doyoung says, taking a calming breath and looking Taeyong in the eye. “Yeah, he’s right.”

 

Taeyong says nothing. He just looks at Doyoung with these wide, shimmering eyes, and Doyoung feels compelled to continue with, “I love you. He’s right.”

 

“Oh my god.”

 

Taeyong’s words seem like they escaped from his mouth without him knowing. A reflex, a knee kicking when the hammer taps. 

 

“Yeah.”

 

Again, Doyoung looks to Baekhyun for moral support. He doesn’t know why he keeps doing that, since he neither knows Baekhyun well enough to trust him so much, nor is Baekhyun any help. He just sits there looking smug and proud of himself.

 

Doyoung sighs. “Taeyong-”

 

He’s interrupted, suddenly, by a smile pressed to his lips and arms thrown around his neck. He squeaks, startled, but when he opens his eyes wide he’s met with nothing but Taeyong’s eyelashes brushing his cheeks and the barely-there freckles on his nose. Just- Taeyong. So close they’re touching. They’re kissing. 

 

Doyoung needs to catch the fuck up.

 

He lets himself melt into it, close his eyes and wraps his hands around Taeyong’s back. It’s nice, perfect. Chaste and simple and so much better than that kiss they shared as kids. This kiss, this simple press of lips that morphs into smiles and then kisses again, is a result of a lifetime spent together, working together like cogs in a machine, always in tandem, always in sync. Every silly argument and fight for the remote, every secret shared and every joke told. 

 

And Doyoung does not forget, for one moment, that Baekhyun is right there.

 

When they part, Doyoung immediately turns to Baekhyun. “Sorry. For kissing your boyfriend.”

 

Baekhyun puts up a placating hand. “By all means.”

 

“This is insane,” Taeyong says, voice distant. “Doyoung, I- I love you, too. You really mean it?”

 

“Of course I do,” Doyoung says with a frown, studying the way Taeyong’s wide eyes seem even wider, vulnerable and confused. “Taeyong, you’ve been half of me for so long, of course I love you.”

 

“Not that,” Taeyong says. He turns to look at Baekhyun, then back at Doyoung. “You know I love you. Now you know. But… would you really let Baekhyun stay part of the picture?”

 

Doyoung looks at Baekhyun, at the flashing colours of the screen on his round cheeks, at that pleased little glimmer in his eye. He finds he means it, truly means it, when he says, “Yeah. So long as he’s okay with it.”

 

All eyes are on Baekhyun. The eldest of the three sighs. “As if I have the power to give or take your happiness,” he says. He looks Taeyong in the eye. “I know how much he means to you. And I’m not lying when I say I’m not jealous or threatened. If you want us both, I’m here.”

 

“Exactly,” Doyoung says, amused by the gobsmacked look on Taeyong’s face. He looks like a kid on Christmas morning, being handed everything he could have ever asked for. “Besides, I like Baekhyun. I’d hate to see him go.”

 

Taeyong whips his head around to look at Doyoung. Warm hands grab Doyoung’s, squeezing them tight. “You mean that?”

 

“I do,” Doyoung says, confused by how earnestly Taeyong is looking at him.

 

“You like him? Enough that you would… maybe-” Taeyong looks nervous, all of a sudden. He keeps whipping his head around to look at Doyoung then Baekhyun, his eyebrows pinched together and his teeth gnawing on his cheek. “Jesus, I’ve already been given so much in a span of ten minutes I feel guilty asking for this, too.”

 

“Spit it out, babe,” Baekhyun says with a laugh. “You know me and Doyoung would give you the world.”

 

Doyoung agrees.

 

“Okay,” Taeyong says, voice tiny. Doyoung loves him so much. “You guys like each other. Enough that maybe… you would consider dating each other, too?”

 

Shocked by the question and lacking an answer, Doyoung looks at Baekhyun, wide-eyed. Baekhyun is looking at him equally surprised, equally speechless.

 

“I just,” Taeyong says, “feel so selfish having both of you, when you only have me.”

 

Considering how this conversation has gone, Doyoung figures it isn’t the most outlandish request in the world. He sits there and he stares at the nervous twist on Taeyong’s beautiful face and spares glances at Baekhyun’s pensive furrow in his brows as he considers it - actually considers it. 

 

Because Doyoung already got everything he could have asked for. Taeyong loves him, too. He got to finally redo that kiss they shared. He’s able to give Taeyong everything he wants, without having to hide behind his biggest secret.

 

And although he thinks dating Baekhyun will look a lot like their blossoming friendship has gone, a lot like puffing their chests up and showing off to each other and meaningless fights over Taeyong’s affection, he thinks it wouldn’t be too bad. It’s kind of fun, having someone to challenge him, to outsmart him and shine so bright. 

 

Taeyong shines a demure, white light, pleasant and stunning and sweet. And Baekhyun shines something yellow and bold, a warm, unignorable heat. The sun in your eyes as you drive into the sunset. Doyoung has always preferred the light over darkness, no matter which form the light comes in.

 

It would, also, be a lie to say he isn’t thinking about that time he watched Baekhyun and Taeyong kiss on their doorstep, and couldn’t find it in him to look away.

 

So Doyoung says, “I’m not opposed to the idea,” and he means it.

 

“Me neither,” Baekhyun says, and Doyoung understands it. It’s not only that they would do anything, each of them, for Taeyong. They’re also in this for themselves, and for each other. “Maybe I need two boyfriends, to keep me in line.”

 

Taeyong doesn’t respond to the joke. He just dumbly says, “This is the best day of my life.”

 

Doyoung squeezes Taeyong’s hand, and meets Baekhyun’s bedazzled, dumbfounded gaze, and he wholeheartedly agrees.